Taylor Wessing remains on track for an Italian launch and has drawn up a shortlist of five candidate firms for either a full merger or mass lateral hire.
A four-partner Taylor Wessing team has been exploring opportunities over the summer.
Despite the search proving, in the words of managing partner Michael Frawley, "more difficult" than anticipated, the team reported back to Taylor Wessing's international management board in September. Frawley said the firm was now considering which parties it will officially approach.
Frawley blamed cultural issues, such as the Italian firms' desire to remain independent, and the close grip on client relationships held by a small number of senior Italian partners, for the delay in the firm's international expansion programme. But he said that the increased presence of US firms in the Italian market was bringing pressure on local lawyers to seek an international deal.
Taylor Wessing has also considered Spain and the Netherlands as sites for future offices, but these plans are believed to be on hold at the moment.